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theater review: No Substitute for the Real Thing

Farcical L..ocadia Funny but Flawed

By Andrew Guerra

L ocadia

MIT Dramashop

Produced by Hayden Taylor

Directed by Michael Ouellette

With Shuo Zhang ’06, Helen F. McCreery ’06, Adam A. Miller ’06, Adam C. Love ’07

Kresge Little Theater

Nov. 10–12 and 17–18, 2005

General $8; Students $6

The titular character of “L ocadia,” a ballerina, is dead before the play begins, yet her presence informs every aspect of the production. The character is stylish and witty, and the production follows suit. Unfortunately, however, the character is eventually revealed as also being ridiculous and flawed, and while “L ocadia” is enjoyable, it is nonetheless flawed as well.

Set in 1920s France, “L ocadia” follows Amanda, a young millner, as she is brought to the estate of a wealthy Duchess. Eventually it is explained that the Duchess’ nephew, Prince Albert, spent three days with L ocadia and fell in love with her shortly before her death. Albert is sent into a deep depression by L ocadia’s death, and the Duchess buys everything necessary for the Prince to relive those three days to ease his suffering. The only missing component to the fantasy is, of course, L ocadia herself, a role that the Duchess hopes Amanda will fill in an attempt to break Albert out of his nostalgic melancholy.

“L ocadia” does most of the important things right, yet is hampered by relatively minor flaws. As the plot setup suggests, the play is extravagant and ridiculous, but enjoyably so. To the cast’s credit, the comedic timing was excellent, and the audience laughed often throughout most of the play. Acting was also generally good, although nearly every actor had some poorly delivered lines. The exception to this was Helen McCreery ’06 as Amanda, whose performance stood out as excellent. The music was also well used throughout the production and set the tone perfectly for the proceedings on stage.

Unfortunately, flaws did exist. Several of the scenes seemed to drag on longer than they should have, which is a death knell for any comedic performance. Finally, the Ice-Cream Vendor is transformed from a “kindly old man” in the written version of the play into a lecherous young man in Dramashop’s production. While this change is certainly interesting and artistically valid, at times the character’s lines don’t harmonize with this new interpretation.

However, the largest problem with “L ocadia” is not in the Dramashop interpretation but in the play itself. The play introduces powerful themes of love, memory, and loss, then fails to develop them beyond trite ideas dealing with the idealization of memory and the beauty of suffering. Symbolism is also minimal, with the play’s one major symbol being both obvious and pointless.

This lack of thematic development and poor use of symbolism is typical of the play’s general failure to communicate anything meaningful. “L ocadia” has Oscar Wilde’s wit and humor but lacks his biting social commentary and fails to replace it with anything coherent. “L ocadia” is entertaining, but the audience will walk out of the theater with little more than a vaguely pleasant feeling and a memory that fades as quickly as a dream.